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women in bim at Digital Construction Week

Introducing Women in BIM

You’ll be hearing a lot about a group called ‘Women in BIM’ in the coming weeks, and as I’ve been involved in some of their activities I thought it would be useful to let you know more about us, what we’re doing and why.

What is Women in BIM?

Women in BIM was set up in 2013 as a networking group to support and draw attention to the low number of women in BIM related roles in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and tech generally. There are plenty of initiatives associated with getting women better represented in the AEC industry, but a lot of them focus on construction, or architecture, and don’t look at the added issue of the more technical and digital aspects of the industry. There is also an emphasis on getting young women into the industry but not enough on keeping them there. Founder Rebecca de Cicco recognised that in BIM and digital construction, even fewer women are visible, and particularly being retained in more senior roles. This may well be because of the ‘tech’ culture which is notoriously male dominated.

What are your objectives?

We have three main priorities:

To Encourage and Support Women in BIM

We want to encourage Women in BIM and digital construction related roles and allow them to have a strong voice in the workplace. Diversity is crucial to collaborative BIM and encouraging women in this sector is of critical importance. By bringing together women in BIM and digital related roles from around the world, we believe we can empower and support each other.

To Advance and Retain Women in BIM

The retention of women in the construction sector is an important issue we must address. We would like to see the number of senior women in BIM related roles increase. We aim to encourage Women in BIM to strive for the best, advance their position and move into senior roles. We are here to support their progress and we want to create a platform to enable and incentivise them.

To Attract and Promote Women in BIM

The built environment faces a skill shortage crisis. We aim to attract young women into the industry, act as mentors to grow their skills and encourage them to enter BIM related roles in the future. By bringing together women in BIM related roles from around the globe, we can support each other in the strength of a group. Together we can equip Women in BIM with the tools and confidence to create a more diverse industry. We will value our collective talents, share our expertise and learn from our experiences.

The Women in BIM Database

At the moment we are focusing on identifying how many women are working in BIM and digital construction around the world, finding them and putting ourselves in touch with each other. This is why our first initiative is the Women in BIM Database.

The Women in BIM Database is a confidential database of women around the world who work in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other digitised areas of the built environment. The database will support women who work in the digital side of the construction industry and act as a resource for learning.

The database will be used to:

  1. Create hubs of support for women to network, discuss and share ideas in the context of BIM around the globe.
  2. Gather data and create a series of infographics illustrating our reach globally.
  3. Inform industry as to where Women in BIM can grow and support within each geography.
  4. Provide information to help the industry and governments address diversity issues.

The database also gives women the opportunity to share their experience and offer their services as speakers and experts. We also hope to share our learning from the database with event organisers around the world to promote and encourage a more diverse speaker presence amongst the AEC Industry.

All sounds good? Of course there may be sceptics, so lets deal with that.

Why have an organisation just for women? Isn’t that a bit sexist?

It isn’t uncommon for people to think that ‘women’s groups’ are sexist, but it’s a misunderstanding. Women in BIM isn’t just for women, and men are welcome to join us in the challenge. In fact, being the majority, it is hugely important that we get participation from men, and as it happens, we’ve had an excellent response thus far. So Women in BIM isn’t just for women but it is about women, and we are working to help women who work in BIM and digital construction to find each other.

Aren’t you just a protest group?

We are the opposite of a protest group. As you can see from our priorities, we’re passionate about improving diversity within the AEC industry, and rather than protesting about it, have decided to identify ways in which we can help that happen. We believe that by gathering together and learning from each other, whe can help the industry become more diverse, to everyone’s benefit. We help you will join us, because we need your help to make this happen.

How can I get involved?

Women who work in BIM can join our database here: http://bit.ly/womeninbimdb

You’ll need a google account and you’ll be able to come back and update your entry using that account in future.

If you’re not ready to join the database yet, you can still keep informed and participate. Please

I’m a man – how can I support Women in BIM?

We’re delighted to have your support. The database is pretty much the only thing that is women only, so please feel free to join us on the other platforms above.

You can also help us by doing the following:

Keep in touch

I’m delighted that Women in BIM are embarking upon a journey to make our industry more inclusive and more attractive to talented women. As well as joining the groups above, you can also get in touch with us via our website, and email.

Su Butcher is director and social strategist at Just Practising Limited. She helps construction companies use the Internet better, in particular when talking to architects. Trained in architecture, she spent most of her career in management. She is on the promotions team for BIM for Manufacturers and Manufacturing (BIM4M2), has made videos about BIM and Social Media with The B1M, and is a member of Women in BIM.

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